Friday, November 20, 2015

Ms. Baggs has left us with a question for the answer, yet again.....................

I hope you will follow this link to Ye Olde Crone's Gazette as we live through another of Ms. Baggs extravaganzas.

I will post here again as soon as we know what manner of hijinx Ms. Baggs has brought us.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A magical Saturday night...............

was had by the Cuckoos in the Casa.

As a matter of fact, it was one of the most spiritual events I ever been to in my life.

I saw an advertisement for the Lantern Fest online to be held here in Albuquerque. I checked with Shelley and the Grands and they were very excited. We invited some friends of the girls to go with us and I bought tickets, t shirts and made plans for the event.

Read on my lovelies, this is how spectacular it was.

Now if you saw the Disney movie Tangled then you might have some idea about the ascension of thousands of lanterns. That was the draw for us but I had no idea how marvelous it really was going to be.

We arrived at the Sandia Speedway around 1:30, set up chairs, a table and our cooler of goodies around a fire pit that was provided by the venue. GK, her friend (date from homecoming) and Ry went off to see what was happening at the games center. GK and Johnny entered the hula hoop contest, she won a beanie and then they set off for the bouncy house at the end of the racetrack. You know we could see them wherever they went for the first couple of hours. Such freedom, such fun for all. Shelley and her friend Joaquin had a blast walking around, seeing the vendors, enjoying themselves. And Joe and I kept the "campsite" and enjoyed people watching and the gorgeous autumn weather. It was just a perfect day of fun.

GK's hula hoop win

As it began to get dark, the venue provided live music by a young man from Alaska. He was terrific. The firepits were lit as were the tiki torches. We shared the fire pit with a military family with two young girls (Ry charmed them both), a group of foreign exchange students from Japan who had never had s'mores before and a young single mom with a boy and girl (Ry also charmed them). It took awhile for the fire marshal to give permission to proceed with the launch.

Hangin' with his homie

that's egg on her hands as Johnny and GK lost the egg toss

Shelley and her best friend "Keeno"

looks like they are making pizza but that's the lantern being "decorated"

Our new military friends

We had decorated our lanterns earlier in the afternoon so we were ready and anxious. We all got busy lighting the cardboard at the bottom of the lantern, which was made of rice paper and designed to only fly for about 3 minutes and then descend with no danger of starting a fire.

that boy standing next to the "olde Bagg" is learning how to smile, maybe

Ry in rare form

These two are hilarious with each other. They have been friends since 6th grade and it shows in how they treat each other
Our new Japanese friends. Joe had to show them how to burn the marshmellows. So much fun

showing Mama some love

their names should be mutt and jeff

Air Force Joe and his lovely wife

 We all were occupied lighting our own lanterns when Shelley said, "oh gawd, everyone look up". I had just about inflated mine and when I looked up I just let go of the lantern. I was gobsmacked. I didn't even realize I was walking in the direction the lanterns were flying. I literally was mesmerized and Ry was so overcome with joy that he couldn't keep the tears from flowing. We all cried, laughed and hugged, whoever was close. The mood of the whole 5000 people was one of hope, joy and utter bliss.
You can't ever take the hippy outta the Oma, see that tie dye peeking from behind
I never had even imagined that the flight of those lanterns would have such a profound impact on so many souls at one time. It was just breathtakingly beautiful.

I didn't even realize that Joe had taken this photo.....I was still looking up.......duh
If you ever have a chance to go to Lantern fest, please give yourself a lifelong memory of magic in the sky.

and yes, this is the Olde Bagg in person (freezing my tushy off)

Smooches and Squoozes,
Oma Linda and all the Cuckoos at the Casa.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Inside the Casa for Halloween decorations..........................

The grands and I set up our Spirit tree three weeks ago. I fully expected that the new cat, Chandler would have the whole thing on the floor in a matter of hours. The other two cats, Uma and Princess Toadstool usually just play with the decorations on the bottom of whatever occasion tree we put up (Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, Spring, 4th of July) but this is Chandlers first adventure with any tree up, so I expected the worst from his crazy kitten self. But the only harm that has happened to the tree is that after I made the skirt to go around the base of the tree, he did a parlor trick and removed the skirt without disturbing the items that we placed on top of the skirt. Sort of like the old remove the tablecloth without disturbing the dish trick on a table. I found the tree skirt on my bed with a very smug looking grey tabby sitting on top of it, doing his best Cheshire Cat imitation. What a goof.

Never could get a photo of the whole tree but here are parts

All of the Halloween decorations are so very special to us. The grands change things up every year. It's nice seeing things put in different vignettes other than what I usually do with them. I love that it's a no holes barred think tank here. Ry set up the graveyard scene and told us a "tale" of the adventures of the zombies and ghouls on Halloween night. GK put some witch dolls I made, before she was even thought of, together in a witch collection.....and Ry told us a story about how the witches got their brooms from a store that sits atop a magic depot.....and then from their I got lost with his game references but he sure was adamant about how the magic seeped up from the depot and went into the brooms by osmosis. I've told you before and it is so true....he came to this realm to save us from ourselves, our inside, outside, upside down thinker extraordinaire.

Anyway, decorating was so much fun this year. Hope you've enjoyed seeing the inside of Casa de Cuckoo.

Happy Halloween,
Samhain Blessings,
Smooches and Squoozes,
Madame Oma, teller of tales and fortunes

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

torn by the rain...or not

This was our year. The one where we actually were going "all in" on the mini carnival in the front patio. I bought the prizes for the games, duck pond and ball toss. We planned the booth for the fortune teller, we got a door system rigged up (on paper), we had lights planned out, we bought a fog machine. We thought we had covered all the bases, except.....................the rain.

On this past Saturday we put the finishing touches on the patio, lights on the house, spooky ookies in the big pine tree out front, and then we listened to the weather report and we are supposed to have rain Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Boo, Hiss.

Here are some photos of the outside of Casa de Cuckoos. And yes, we do like to overdo.

approaching our house

and then we open the gate and...............

yes, that is the Halloween tree in the front window

this photo is for you Ms. Magaly

So we dropped back 15 and punted. We will just pass out candy to any that might come and we will watch movies.

Then the weather report changed and now "it might rain".

So what's an olde witchy to do???????
Play it by ear and hope for clear sky's on Saturday morning?
The first plan things are staged in the garage and ready......
If we do, we do, if not then not.

Monday, October 19, 2015

As promised ..........

the telling of the visitations whilst I worked in the memorial park mausoleum.

But first I must thank all of you who read my entry into Ms. Magaly's 2015 Witches in Fiction. So many lovely comments and here's the answer to a couple of questions.

I worked in the cemetery for 4 years. It only took me about 5 months to get used to the funeral director terrorists and the people distractions.

But the part I never thought I would experience, let alone come to enjoy was the visitations from the inhabitants of the memorial park, both human and animal. We had coyotes, roadrunners, prairie dog, squirrels, rabbits, quail, meadowlark, hummingbirds and feral cats. The doors were left open except if there was inclement weather, so more than a few times we had roadrunners or rabbits in the garden in the middle of the mausoleum. Never a dull moment in such a quiet setting.

There were days when the park became very active with spirits. There was always an electricity that was the memorial parks aura. Most of the time I would just glimpse spirits but on a few occasions I had them join me wherever I might be in the days work or on the grounds.

this is much like the "welcome wagon lady" looked
My favorite and most frequent visitor was a lovely older gentleman who would come into my office, sit down at the chair in front of my desk and begin the same story every time. He told me of his wife Jessie, who had left the living when she was only 22. He always asked if I could help him find her. He knew where he "slept" but she wasn't next to him as she should be. Instead there was another person, that he did not recognize and it upset him to think that his bride of just a mere 7 months would have gotten misplaced and a total stranger was in the next crypt.

Each and every time Mr. Mauldin came in, I would walk with him back to his crypt where he "slept" and explained that the person next to him was his second wife and her name was Anne. Then he would thank me and go into the wall. And go through the same process at a later time. He was still searching for Jessie. He didn't remember Anne and was puzzled by a woman named Marijean who kept leaving flowers on the crypt. She was his third wife and quite a talker herself. When she came to visit him, I could almost count the days until Mr. Mauldin would be back to ask the same questions. It was only through my talking with Marijean that I found out the whole story.

Jessie was his sweetheart from high school. They had known each other all through school. He was devoted to her. His second wife Anne had been a high strung woman who loved Mr. Mauldin but not nearly as much as she did her medications and kept to herself much of the time they were married. Marijean met him in the nursing home and they got married much to his family's displeasure. She would always laugh and say she was a default wife because Mr. Mauldin didn't like to sleep alone. It all made sense.

And don't worry about Marijean, she also visited her first husband who was in crypts only two rows over from Mr. Mauldin. She joked that both her fellas were there waiting for her. I didn't say a word about the one of her fellas that visited with me often.

The next spirit Clara never spoke or had any persons visit her as far as I knew. She was in an outdoor crypt near where I parked my car. Sometimes when I got to work she was just sort of hanging around outside the mausoleum. Once or twice I saw her come through the front doors, particularly when there was a service in the Chapel across from my office. I once saw her in the Chapel with a coffin. She looked as though she were talking to that person. Maybe she was a self appointed welcome wagon for the newly arrived. She would also pause in front of my window that faced out onto the garden in the middle of the mausoleum. Never a sign of recognition that she saw me, but I certainly saw her.
this is very much as Mr. Mauldin and the little boy appeared

And then there was the little boy who played on the grounds of the cemetery very near a rabbit warren. He was maybe 5, very light blonde hair, and small of stature. When I "investigated who he might be, I found that he had died 50 years earlier and was a fixture at the cemetery. Many people who came into the cemetery to visit loved ones saw him and watched as he played with the bunnies and birds. In the winter when I left work it was almost dark and I could see Jacob sitting on his grave playing. A few folks even reported to me that there was a little boy all by himself close to the front gate. I would always tell them we would look into their reports.

There were other glimpses, but these were the three spirits that I saw frequently. I asked the others at the cemetery if they too saw spirits but Eddie the ground supervisor and I were the only ones who admitted to sightings.

Lastly was a woman, who we all knew very well from her flamboyant behavior, came into my office and asked me to accompany her to her husband's crypt. I thought she was going to report that something was missing or that she was unhappy with something. But when we reached the heart level crypt, she turned to the chair that was close by and said to the chair.....because I saw no one, "now ask this young lady if I've been here in the last week?" She paused for the amount it might have taken for those words to be spoken to me and then said to me, "well tell him". I felt as though I was either being pranked or I should back away slowly, but instead I faced the chair and said "of course she was." I then turned and high tailed it for the restroom. I'm sure she thought she saw her husband and perhaps she did, but this was the same lady who had her newest boyfriend drive her to the front of the mausoleum and drop her off. He (the man de jour) would then go park his car and wait at the back exit, while the Mrs. left notes and cried and kissed poor Sam's crypt. She then drove off and would come back the next month........which meant I lied to Sam. Damn.

The time I spent with the spirits was a precious life lesson and a special time in my life. I shall never forget nor lose focus on what a thinning there is of the veil at this time of year and also for those with the sight.

GK has requested a trip to the cemetery to perhaps see these spirits......after all it is right across the street from where she goes to high school. wooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Death Rites and Rememberances.............

This is my entry for Ms. Magaly's great Witches in Fiction. It is my great pleasure to tell you a true tale from my past. Thank you very much Magaly for yet another great adventure with you.

40 years ago this Halloween, I was a new hire for a mortuary in my home town. I had begun my job on September 9th and was still getting used to my office being in the mausoleum at the top of the hill in the middle of the cemetery.

To be honest I was both naive and afraid. I probably never should have taken the job of record keeper and secretary but my husband and I needed the money to begin to save money to buy our first home. So even though I had a terrible case of nerves each and every morning as I unlocked the mausoleum, I went about learning my job.

There were only 8 workers in the cemetery. A grounds superintendent, with whom I shared the office, the sales manager's office at the bottom of the hill, where the cemetery plots and crypts were sold, the 5 grave diggers/grounds keepers and myself. Oh and I must not forget the old Native American couple who lived in the steward's house at the end of the drive. My co-workers were a very interesting mix of personalities and I quickly made friends with one and all. My particular favorite was Eddie the grounds superintendent. He was a quiet but affable guy who was laid back and funny. He never stressed about anything and was a huge line of support for a very uneasy 26 year old.

He teased me unmercifully and told me I had nothing to fear but fear itself. Not that he looked like Winston Churchhill in the slightest. Eddie was rail of a man. 6 ft tall and probably 150 lbs dripping wet but he had the sinewy kind of muscles that were required for his very labor intensive labors as boss of the cemetery. He had been at the cemetery for 20 something years and knew every tree, bush, nook and cranny of the huge acreage and the expansive mausoleum.

I remember my first day in the office as if it were yesterday. 40 years has not diminished the powerful aura of the place and the impact of every person who came and went that morning.

At noon, music began to play and I almost came out of my skin. I had been working hard to look over the record books and see how the entries should be made. Deep in concentration, the first bells peeling out their notes were like an electric shock to my brain. I don't remember jumping to my feet but the next thing I remember I was standing at the front glass doors ready to exit. That's how I first met Mr. Stewart, the original owner's, son in law. I must have frightened him as well because he jumped back and had a look like he had never seen anything like it. Me running towards the exit as the carrilon bells rang out Amazing Grace. Not exactly how you want to impress the boss.

That was the first of many frights that came my way during the first two months of my employ. The funeral directors and staff at the mortuary took great pleasure in scaring me, because all knew I was  easily frightened. It was an ongoing battle between my imagination and the scare tactics of the others that worked around me.

The first all Hallows Eve is also is cemented into my memory with the ghost lights that shone from the cemetery grounds. Eddie warned me about the practice of lighting the graveyard to ward off the departed from coming back to this realm. If he had not warned me, I swear I wouldn't have ventured out of the mausoleum. Candles placed on the graves and people milling about in the twilight just as I was leaving my office. It was the eeriest thing I had ever see, up to that point. Little did I know that the burial practices of others would be the most shocking of all.

The overwhelming thing to me was to watch families bury their children. The sounds of the crying was heart wrenching. But worse were the visits observed where the parents, grandparents, other loved ones would bring gifts to the grave sites. Toys, balloons, and mementos were the hardest to note. And then there was the theft of those items by who knows what heartless person, with no compassion whatsoever. I was the one that had to listen to brokenhearted folks who had lost not only their loved ones but the tokens they had left for the departed. So many times these brokenhearted ones would point their finger at the staff of the cemetery and sometimes, I think they were right. It was very hard to have to sit and listen but it was a lesson that I am glad I had to learn. I believe the years that I worked in the cemetery were the basis for my understanding and compassion for others.

But now to the interesting and bizarre burial rituals of others.

We had a Romany service in the Chapel at the Mausoleum. The man was an elder in the family and by rights had paid mourners lead the procession into the Chapel. The racket was goose pimple inducing and I had never experienced anything like it. The wailing and carrying on lasted for a good hour before the "service" began. Then the mourners filed past the open casket and left money for the departed. After the service, the eldest son took up all the money left in the casket and counted it all out and then wrote a check to his father, the deceased and sealed the deal by putting silver dollar coins on his father's eyes. Then the casket was closed and they set up a bar on the casket and everyone including the children had a drink toasting the deceased. When this was finished, a procession complete with dancers and guitar players walked the casket to the cemetery plot, where they all had another drink and then left the cemetery.

We also "hosted" a bikers funeral at graveside. Hundreds of motorcycles rumbled into the cemetery and drove throughout the grounds. When they came to the graveside, a service "of sorts" was preformed and then his fellow bikers gave him a tribute as his casket was being lowered. They all took a whizz on him. I guess that was their idea of a 21 gun salute. Yikes.

This brings me to the last "different" and out of the ordinary death ritual. I was not familiar with any Southeast Asian funeral rites and this one really was colorful and interesting. Before the family came to the graveside, white runners were placed over the ground where the mourners would walk and all around the graveside. Then the casket was placed on the lowering device, and all manner of fruit, flowers, food and drink were piled high all around the grave. Much incense and chanting accompanied the service. And then the mourners filed out of the grounds, into their cars and out of the cemetery.

I was most curious about this service and went down to the site myself.  The flowers were lavish and exotic, the aroma of the food was overwhelming and the beauty of all of the combined colors on the stark white background was beautiful. Eddie explained that they had had several Taoist funerals and that the food had to stay on the grave for at least 5 days. He remarked that it would be hard to keep the "workers" from taking some of the food and even harder to keep the coyotes and other scavengers like the crows and falcons from taking their share but that it needed to be that way. Eddie warned the guys that most of the food had been sitting out for at least 2 days already and really could make them sick.
Sure enough, the next day, 2 of the "workers" called in sick with stomach problems.  Sometimes the living just do not make sense.

This is not ritual per se but rather the oddities I observed while keeping records, listening to people and overcoming my own fear of the the noises and visitations of those that had passed over. (This part is a posting for a later time.)

Many, many people make a routine of visiting their loved ones. Most do so in a quiet, respectful way. However, in my experience there are those who must have not had the kind of relationship with the deceased that they wished they had had or still held grudges or some such problem because, we had folks who would come into the mausoleum (where I could hear them carrying on) and scream and yell at the deceased. Or do battle with the marble that covered the crypts or headstones in the cemetery. Lots of anger and pent up emotions are exhibited in graveyards. And as many notes are left with confession, or longing or hatred or rage.

I learned to listen to what angels or demons people had been in the lifetime. How much they were missed or how glad the person was to have them out of pain. And I also listen to tales of abuse, neglect, mistreatment and abandonment.

The main ritual of burying the dead is the actions of the living. It is individual, delicate and always unsettling to the persons left behind. The ritual of death is emotion, of so many kinds. There is a fine line that we all walk between life and death. The most confused people I met were the ones who had no idea about what they believe death is and where we go afterwards. I can't tell you how many times I heard people say, "do you think my departed one is okay"?

I had some of the departed visit me as well while I worked in that crypt surrounded office. Most all of these visitors were newly departed. Not quite sure of what had happened to them. Still wondering and wandering.

I would not give anything for the time I was that close to the veil. It gave me my own reason for wanting not to be included in a gathering place for those who have passed over. I want to be part of the landscape, part of my Sandia Mountains, to go back from whence I came.........stardust. I've told my family to blow me a kiss towards the moon and I'll be watching them with joy for the life I have had and the blessed journey I have been on. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A busy weekend..........2 weeks ago

If you are on facebook, you have probably already seen some of the pictures of Ms. GK and her date, Johnny for Homecoming at St. Pius X high school. If not, then this is a perfect venue to bore you with more pics of my granddaughter.
all the last minute touch ups

princess before the ball

between these to pictures you get a none jumpy one, sheesh

who are those masked cuties????

The young man she went with has been a good friend since 6th grade. He and she were part of the Geek Squad back in middle school. He and she both looked so spiffy. Good looking date couple.

We took a gazillion pictures and the both of them were not surprised. He still doesn't have his license either so his Mom was the chauffeur. They did the whole enchilada. Flowers, dinner and then the dance. His friends were so kind to her and made her feel very welcome.

There were over 800 kids at the dance, which was rather disconcerting to GK because her whole school has less than 300 kids in 4 grades. As she put it, "it was a little claustrophobic on the dance floor". G said it was the most fun dance she has ever been to because she and her date have known each other for so long they had lots to talk about and they didn't have that awkward silence thing going on.
couldn't even resist "the face"

There must have been a spark that night because she and Johnny are Skyping every night and from the giggles coming from both of them, I'd say their friendship is still just as strong as ever.